July 17th, 2013
How one-to-one instruction “drives” personalized learning
For many people, no learning could be more personalized than one-on-one instruction between a teacher and student. But what if the results aren’t helpful for the student? Or the feedback is accurate, but not timely? How can we makepersonalized learning truly personal?
Let’s consider the example of a driving lesson:
The night before the class, the student gets an email with links to videos he or she should watch. These videos explain the various parts of the car and how to use a stick shift. The student is instructed to watch the video more than once if anything is confusing.
At the end of the next day, both the student and the instructor get in the car and drive off. An hour later, the lesson is complete. The student parks and the instructor says his or her first words since the key went in the ignition:
“Did you realize you were in first gear the entire time? Yes, that was what was causing that noise. It might have been better to attempt parking a little more slowly so we wouldn’t have gone up on the curb. Twice.”
The instructor then suggests some videos for the student to watch before their next lesson.
Was this lesson personalized?
The comments were certainly personally applicable to that student, but the fact that the instructor waited until the end of the lesson to make them significantly reduced their effectiveness. Things like learning when to shift out of first gear cannot easily be learned by simply watching a video, students need real-time guidance.
For learning to be truly personalized, any feedback or assistance provided by the instructor needs to be both timely and at an appropriate level for the student. Ideally, comments would be based upon a combination of comprehensive knowledge of the student’s existing skills and observation of even the smallest maneuvers and interactions the student makes.
This level of concentration, observation and memorization would be difficult for even the best teacher to do every day for even one student – it’s physically impossible to do with an entire class. However, for a goodadaptive learning program, it’s simple.
What’s the Outcome?
What happens when you combine the observation, analysis and adaptation capabilities of adaptive learning software with the people skills, experience and background knowledge of student personalities that a good teacher possesses? When personalized learning programs provide accurate and actionable real-time feedback to teachers, an added level of personalization can be provided that software cannot do on its own – the “human touch”.
When the program informs teachers that a student is either struggling or has mastered a content area, they can then talk with the student to give encouragement, praise or additional assistance targeted specifically at the current problems students are facing.
If a number of students are struggling in the same area, a good personalized learning program will point this out so the teacher can spend time with them in a small group and be confident that the academic needs of the other students will be addressed by the adaptive learning software. This essentially allows the teacher to be by the side of every student in the classroom all at once, observing, recording, analyzing and responding to every problem students face at the moment they face it.
An adaptive learning program can customize lesson plans and pacing in real-time for every student, but a computer can’t put a hand on your shoulder and share a human moment. When teachers leverage the real-time data on each student provided by the adaptive learning software, the result is far more than the sum of its parts: It makes personalized learning even more personal and effective for both teachers and students.